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M. Massimi, Scientific models and modal knowledge

March 14 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Debates on whether conceivability might act as a guide to possibility
have been prominent in the recent literature on the epistemology of
modality. Much less attention has been paid to the role that an
epistemic notion of conceivability (along Yablo’s lines) might play in
scientific modelling. In this talk, I argue that an important family of
scientific models display a relevant notion of conceivability that
proves key to delivering modal knowledge in science. I present two
different cases of scientific modelling that successfully bridge the
modal gap between what is conceivable and knowledge of what is possible.
A relevant class of such scientific models is the class of what I call
“perspectival models”; i.e. seemingly incompatible or inconsistent
models for the same target system. I show how perspectival models work
by comparing and contrasting them with fictional models, and by using
examples from the history of physics and contemporary scientific


March 14
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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Northrop Frye Hall, room 119
73 Queen's Park Crescent East
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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